“the story is one of love, trust, and risk—all three of which must be found in order to make life work in all its messiness. Zae herself is likable, flawed, and strong, three qualities that bring a protagonist to life. Recommended . . .”
What determines who we are? Is it our interests? Our friends? Our house? Our romantic partner? Our family? And what if those things we count on start falling away?
Seventeen-year-old Zae Monroe is trying to enjoy her junior year of high school, but everything wrapped up in her identity is breaking apart. Her long-time boyfriend cheats on her, her parents separate, and her position on the cheer squad feels wobbly because she can’t perfect that ridiculous roundoff back handspring.
When Zae finds out the reason her family is breaking up and she has to move out of her home is because her father has a new girlfriend, she cannot control her rage. She and her “squad,” her close-knit group of girlfriends, decide to hold a kissing contest to get back at those males who refuse to be faithful. Whoever kisses the most boys during spring break wins. The rules? No kissing each other’s exes, no going after guys who have girlfriends, it has to be a real kiss—with tongue!—and no getting mad at each other for kissing the same guys. They are going to show they are bold, aggressive, and as cavalier about boys’ feelings as guys are about theirs. But the biggest rule? No falling for the guys you kiss.
Not such an easy rule to live by.
As the contest heats up, so does Zae’s life. How does she handle all of the stress in her life? She must manage not only her own emotions, but those of her friends, her younger brother, and her parents. Meanwhile, she’s deciding what she will do with the rest of her life. She doesn’t want to go to college, as her friends and parents expect, and she is dealing with the consequences of kissing boys without any consideration.
How does life get so complicated?
Zae discovers a lot about herself as she navigates relationships with her friends and the boys she uses to collect her kisses. Why is the school’s bad boy suddenly stalking her? Had the sweet guy in class gone sweet on her? And who is placing romantic poems in her locker?
This book is an entertaining and sympathetic exploration of teen life. There is so much to figure out during those years, but not much experience with which to figure it out. Ultimately, the story is one of love, trust, and risk—all three of which must be found in order to make life work in all its messiness. Zae herself is likable, flawed, and strong, three qualities that bring a protagonist to life. Recommended for all girls who struggle with love and friendship, all guys who want to get into girls’ heads, and all adults who want a better understanding of what is going on in the teen world.